Carl Khalife

  • Degree Programme: Masters in Analytics and Management
  • Global Nationality: French/Lebanese
  • Profile Job Post-programme: Incoming Associate Consultant, Bain & Company
Civil engineer Carl Khalife [MAM2020] explains how the London Business School Masters in Analytics and Management (MAM) degree programme and the School’s expert Career Centre advisers helped him to make the step change in his career that he was looking for.

I have a very technical background. I studied Civil Engineering at Imperial College London between 2015 and 2019. After that, I took a job at Imperial College as a Research Assistant in the Transport Systems and Logistics Laboratory. This experience was transformational as it enabled me to gain a thorough understanding of concepts such as network optimisation, machine learning and developing simulations to model real life problems. Nevertheless, I was eager to learn how to use these skills to create value to all – businesses, governments and people. Strategy consulting seemed exciting, but out of reach for me without the relevant knowledge and skills.

I chose the LBS MAM on recommendation from friends who work in consulting. It seemed that the programme would be the right bridge and segway into the career path in consulting I was looking for. While some Masters programmes rely heavily on theory, the MAM is a good balance of academic rigour and practical learning, bringing data science to life in real business case studies. The advantage of LBS is its truly holistic approach and that worked for me really well. I was able to apply the learnings and insight from the MAM right away in my Research Assistant role at Imperial College where I was focusing on urban air mobility systems. In this role, I look at three things. Firstly, the question of where to position urban air transport stations. Secondly, the best vehicle design for a station configuration. And finally, dispatch strategy. What the MAM has given me is a high-level understanding of the strategic implications of such decisions.

The Data Visualisation and Storytelling core course gave me an excellent framework that I could apply to many aspects of my Imperial Research role like demand modelling, planning stations and creating interactive maps. There were other examples of how through the MAM, I learned to make my more technical background relevant to today's business environment. Clustering algorithms, which can be used to determine the position of stations for new transportation modes, I discovered can also be used to uncover new customer segments. Mixed-integer programming, which can be used to design the optimal route network in a city, can also be used to create an online advertising campaign strategy, determining keywords for search and budget allocation to reach a specific goal. What I learned at LBS was not only how to use analytics for strategic decision-making, but also the extent to which it can create value not only for organisations, Governments, and individuals. LBS gave me the skills I was lacking and looking for.

Ultimately, my goal was to move into consulting, which I have now achieved. I start my new role at strategy consultants Bain & Company in Dubai in March. The LBS Career Centre had a huge impact on me being able to achieve this. Kira Hughes, Career Lead for the MiM and MAM programmes supervised a group case study workshop which I was invited to take part in with students from the nearby ESCP Business School. It felt like a real interview; in fact, it was more challenging than any of the real interviews I took part in. The feedback from Kira and her colleagues was excellent. Most of the points Kira made actually emerged in my real interviews.

Kira also put me in touch with the LBS Technology and Consulting Career Leads, who provided me with insights and context on some of the firms I interviewed with and the skills they’d be looking for. This helped me feel much more confident in the interviewing process. The Career Centre really is integral to the LBS offer – their knowledge and networks in different industries is world-class, and the advisers take the time to tailor their approach for you. It’s really a special and very valuable part of the LBS experience.

“While some Masters programmes rely heavily on theory, the MAM is a good balance of academic rigour and practical learning, bringing data science to life in real business case studies.”

The strategy-focused electives, including Business Strategy Analytics and Supply Chain Management helped me to understand which consultancy firms would be the best fit for me. I also quickly realised that the dynamics in consulting firms in the Middle East, where I grew up, and the UK really differ. In the Middle East, the sector is focused on Government projects, whereas in the UK, the firms work largely in the private sector. Following my research at Imperial, I’m more interested in public sector and Government projects, so it made a lot more sense for me to apply for a role in the Middle East.

The skills I learnt at LBS had an impact that goes way beyond my professional life. I come from Lebanon, where in August 2019, a devastating chemical explosion rocked Beirut, killing hundreds of people. My friends, Lynne Sakr and Nour Saleh, and I set up a donation initiative called minlondonlabeirut (from London to Beirut) through Instagram. We asked for public donations of urgent and essential supplies, like medical provisions. Then we packed everything in suitcases and identified London-to-Beirut travellers to take the supplies to NGOs in Lebanon. I was surprised but delighted by how well this initiative worked out. It taught me not to be afraid of being entrepreneurial. In terms of strategy, I learned the importance of being clear about what you want to do and sticking to that.

Electives, such as Channel and Sales Force Management inspired this alternative approach to distribution. I remembered a case study about a gaming company that instead of distributing product through retailers, signed a deal with Starbucks to put their games in cafes. It made me realise that it could be cheaper, faster and more efficient to find a different transportation arrangement then the traditional couriers.

“The Career Centre really is integral to the LBS offer – their knowledge and networks in different industries is world-class, and the advisers take the time to tailor their approach for you. It’s a special and very valuable part of the LBS experience.”

In the future, I’d like to focus on building a career in the public sector, but I’m also interested in finance and entrepreneurship. My ideal role would be in public policy helping startups in the Middle East. Companies in the transport space there are experiencing real growth at the moment: logistics, delivery and ride-hailing apps like Careem in Dubai or Halan in Egypt are doing so well. When Uber expanded into the UAE, for example, they found it difficult to compete with Careem and ended up acquiring them instead. Now that I have the benefit of an analytical approach from Imperial and a high-level understanding of business and operations from LBS, I’d like to help local transport startups looking to grow and move into new markets.

I know it sounds clichéd, but my advice to future MAM students is to get as involved in the LBS community as possible. The diversity of culture, perspective and experience is unparalleled. If you’re on the MAM, engage with students who have more experience than you. There are many ways to do this informally and through electives. When I started studying with other Degree students during electives, I saw myself really develop. In addition, attending conferences and events ranging from Tech to Private Equity clubs, really made me more aware of the different opportunities that are available for LBS students and all contributed to pushing me toward my new career. I’ve made lifelong friends, working in different industries, and across different continents, being part of a network that will follow me wherever I go. 

There’s also a lot to learn from extracurriculars that go beyond the programme itself. So, if I could do it all over again, I’d join more societies. I’m now excited to take everything I’ve learned forward; to be only 23 years old and giving recommendations to companies on meaningful aspects of decision-making feels like a real achievement.

 

Find out where the Masters in Analytics and Management could take you.